April 24, 2012
Funding a Library Development Agency
If there really was a need for a library development agency (and I am among those who think there is) , then I think the funding for it should come from councils, not central government and it should report to a board of councillors who have responsbility for public libraries
I have thought that for a long time but it was emphasised this week when we watched the public library service turned into a pickled onion when various newspapers rolled out stories about how libraries ban books in response to requests made by their customers (Ba ba the elephant is racist, or animalist or something)
The public library service needs a decent PR agency to look after it - and then the good it does would clearly be shown to outweigh the old fashioned nonsenses with which it is often labelled
Councils should collectively employ a PR agency and manage it through a development group
There is no point having the Arts Council or somebody else do that- they are interested in something else.
If the body was worthwhile and demonstrably added value to what councils do on their own - then they should pay for it out of their own library budgets.
As this site will readily repeat, there is loads of money wasted in council library services, and this would be a better, more useful way of spending it.
Good PR brings visits and reputation. Good visit numbers and high repuatation bring approval from council finance officers and votes for councillors. It has nothing to do with the DCMS or Arts Council
The development agency could also host one libraries website, run one libraries catalogue, obtain decent procurement contracts fromn publishers, create one set of standard processes, manage one library management system etc etc ... and save a lot of money - but it is councils and councilllors that need to call for it, set its agenda and make it work properly, and not MP's and quangoes in government
Posted by Perkins at April 24, 2012 8:25 PM
"If there really was a need for a library development agency (and I am among those who think there is) , then I think the funding for it should come from councils, not central government and it should report to a board of councillors who have responsbility for public libraries"
Your main problem isn't the central idea, it is that you have described the improvement functions of the LGA, which you have previously condemned. The only way that local councils will do this in concert is through the LGA and its development and improvement agencies. There are no other bodies which they are every going to operate through for a venture of this kind, unless you can persuade some of them to form some sort of breakaway body just for libraries, but surely that would leave that body isolated and not including the majority of councils?
Posted by: Commentating Bazzle at April 25, 2012 9:01 AM
Yes- you are right, I don't approve of the LGA and would close it down
But I would stick to my guns and say there should be a body that is just for libraries.
I think the minister could encourage its creation, and find some way to be a catalyst to get it going- but I think its agendas, actions and funding should come from councils
It isn't unheard of for councillors to work in this way - the London Councils have a body which has proven that with effective leadership changes and improvements can be made
But close the LGA
Posted by: Perkins at April 25, 2012 9:44 AM